I am so excited to share a wonderful guest post from Bonnine McConaughy about learning your limits and managing pain when you live with a chronic illness!
Without further ado, let’s turn it over to Bonnie!
Living with Chronic Illness: Learning Your Limits & Managing Pain
Chronic illness is nothing new to many of us, and it comes with its own set of challenges. Since my joint pain, caused by what I now know is Hypermobility Syndrome, started in my preteens, I have had to constantly learn how to deal with it in the best way possible. Due to testing positive for having autoimmune disorder markers in my teens and also more recently as an adult, I know that I also have some undiagnosed autoimmune disorder as well. I know that the combination of these issues often drains my energy, not to mention the many challenges it presents in my day-to-day life with the pain and other symptoms. Along with those things, I also deal with depression, anxiety, and headaches and migraines on a regular basis. Anyone who has dealt with these, or similar issues, understands that it can be tough to find a balance and learn your limits. As I have learned to deal with these issues and live the best life possible, I have figured some things out that have helped:
First, in order to learn your limits, you must get to know your body so that you can actually listen to it.
Reading your body’s cues can be beneficial in the long run, although it can take a while to figure out your body’s rhythm and triggers. Here are some tips to start learning how to listen to your body:
Whenever you feel tired, rest.
- I know it is easier said than done because we all have things we just have to get done each day, but if you do too much without enough rest, it will come back to hurt you in the long run.
If you’re in pain, rest and treat the pain in the best way you can.
- Sometimes we can’t fully treat our pain, but we can do what we know how to do, whether that be resting, using a heating pad or cold pack, applying pain relief creams, or anything else that helps take the edge off and make us feel more comfortable.
Stay ahead of your pain as much as you can.
If you know that something normally causes you pain and you need to do it anyway, take some pain reliever beforehand or rest up to make sure you’re in tip-top shape to take care of it. Whatever helps you, do it beforehand if you can.
- If you get the feeling that you’ll feel bad if you do a certain activity, listen to that feeling. Either say ‘no’ to the person asking you or to yourself. You deserve to take care of yourself and if you have a bad feeling, it can be very telling and intuitive.
- Try not to overdo it. Plan ahead and only do what is needed. When we overdo it, we will almost certainly pay for it down the line.
- Take note of patterns in how you feel, based on what you have done or experienced in your day. Soon you will know how to listen to your body in a proactive way, instead of simply reacting after the pain or fatigue has already hit.
Next step is taking the prevention measures necessary to help you feel better more of the time.
Staying ahead of the game with our pain and other symptoms can make a world of difference to our ability to thrive with our chronic illnesses. Some things that I have found to be helpful in this respect are:
Turning to the treatments that work for you, if at all possible.
- Make sure you are stocked up on the medicines, creams, or other tools that you need to take care of your chronic illness.
Asking for help or advice from others when you need it.
- Some people go through similar issues and have excellent suggestions on ways to help the pain or fatigue. I have personally found a lot of good treatment options this way.
Making sure you’re getting enough sleep and rest each day.
- I know it can be hard sometimes, especially when you’re in pain or your sleep quality is lacking, but just focus on doing your best. Sleep and rest are so valuable in our lives, and our bodies seem to need it more when they are constantly battling pain and the other symptoms that plague us.
Lastly, take good care of yourself.
There is only one you, and you must do your best to take care of yourself and your wellbeing. For those of us who deal with chronic illness, this can also help us manage our symptoms a bit better as well and feel less overwhelmed.
Once you’ve figured out your limits, more or less, you can stick within those limits to the best of your ability each day.
- That doesn’t mean that every day will be amazing, but you are likely to have more “good” days to celebrate.
Like I mentioned earlier, try your best to not overdo it.
- As you learn what you are capable of doing each day without causing too much pain or fatigue, you will know when it’s necessary to stop.
Take care of yourself and your wellbeing by eating as healthy as you can, drinking plenty of water, and getting in some physical activity that your body can handle.
- As your health improves, you will start to feel better all around. Also, don’t neglect about your mental and emotional health. You can read books, spend time in prayer, talk to a friend who’s a good listener, and pamper yourself once in awhile. Whatever works to boost your mental and emotional states!
It can be hard to learn our limits and actually stay within them. I know that it took me a while to even realize that I should learn my own limits, let alone figure out how to put it into action. However, in learning more about myself and my limits, I have found a peace and level of comfort that helps me get more done most of the time without wearing myself out or doing damage in some other way. Believe me, you can accomplish this too! That doesn’t mean it’s always going to be smooth sailing, or that you won’t ever overdo it, but most days will be better and you will be able to live a more fulfilling life!
There you have it, tips for learning your limits when living with chronic illness.
Bonnie McConaughy is the owner and founder of Inspire the Best You, where she writes about weight loss, healthy living, self-love, and personal growth. If you are interested in those topics, stop by and read her blog! She is also a freelance and ghostwriter (www.bmcconaughy.weebly.com).